Chuck Landon: Rotten foul shooting a chance to channel Hal
The answer wasn't exactly right under their noses.
But very, very close.
It was actually hanging just overhead on the west facade of the Henderson Center.
That's where the Marshall men's basketball team can find the solution to chronic free throw shooting problems. All the Herd has to do is look up at the framed No. 16 jersey on the wall.
It belonged to Hal Greer.
Most Marshall fans know the former Marshall and NBA star is the best basketball player in school history. What they probably don't realize is Greer had a very unique style of foul shooting.
The 6-foot-2 guard would toe the foul line, take the ball from the referee, dribble a couple of times, then jump straight up into the air and shoot a jump shot.
Yes, a jump shot.
None of this flat-footed foul shooting for Hurryin' Hal. He was a man on the move. And his best move was a signature jumper that allowed him to score 21,586 points in 1,122 NBA games for the Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia 76ers.
So, why not shoot his best shot from the foul line?
It simply made sense.
Not to mention points.
In 15 NBA seasons, Greer was 4,578-for-5,717 at the foul line by using his jump shot. That's a success rate of 80.1 percent.
Are you listening, Herd?
The players certainly should be paying attention, considering Marshall is the foulest foul shooting team in the entire nation. And, no, that's not an exaggeration. Heading into Marshall's game against North Texas at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Henderson Center, the Herd has missed more foul shots than any school in the country.
In 17 games, Marshall is 298-for-497 (.600) at the foul line.
That's 199 missed free throws.
Ahem, jump shots from the foul line anyone?
"I'm going to try that," said Kareem Canty with fake enthusiasm.
But the freshman point guard couldn't keep a straight face.
"Nah, not really," added Canty with a laugh. "I can't try that. I did hear about him being one of the 50 greatest NBA stars. But I didn't know he shot his free throws like that."
Neither did Ryan Taylor.
When asked to guess, the freshman forward replied, "Underhanded? Grandma shot?" But after learning Greer shot his jump shot, Taylor was more receptive to the idea.
"It could work," said Taylor, who is shooting 64.4 percent (47 of 73) at the foul line. "I think it's something worth trying. Especially with the way we are shooting free throws."
Freshman guard Austin Loop also was on board after hearing Greer shot a jumper from the foul line.
"Did he?" said Loop. "Huh. I didn't know that. He shot 80.1 percent? Maybe I ought to start giving that a try. I'm going to have to get in here after practice and work on that."
Then, there was sophomore forward TyQuane Goard.
"For real? He shot 80.1 percent?" said an amazed Goard. "That's good. That's very good. I'm sure if we had shot that, we'd have won most of our games."
Indeed. So, does that mean Goard is willing to see if that style could improve his .673 foul shooting percentage?
"Uh," he hedged. "I don't know about that."
Not even the inimitable Greer can overcome peer pressure. So, despite practicing jump shots the majority of the time rather than flat-footed shooting, the Herd seems reluctant to abandon its traditional, albeit unsuccessful, style of foul shooting.
Channeling their inner Hal Greer might have had them jumping for joy at the foul line.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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